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About Devine Intervention

"Frequently hysterical ... devastatingly honest writing that surprises with its occasional beauty and hits home with the keenness of its insight." 

—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

 

"So much fun... an insightful story about seizing life for all it’s worth while you have the chance."

—Publishers Weekly


"It is a pleasure to read a writer who so delights in language, and who writes so captivatingly in a teen voice with such imaginative description."

— Los Angeles Times

“This is a love story. Not a romantic love story, but a story of the development of a deep caring relationship with another being. Humorous and sad at times, it brings us to ask ourselves what we think about heaven and how we get there. Believable and fast-paced, it keeps us reading to the end.”

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Monday
Dec262011

Scholastic editor Cheryl Klein: an SCBWI pre-conference interview

Cheryl KleinHello, writers and illustrators. It's time for another pre-conference interview with one of the SCBWI New York conference faculty. Have you registered yet? You can do so here — but do hurry! 

Meet Cheryl Klein. It wouldn't be difficult to imagine her in a Regency gown taking a turn around the room with — oh, I don't know, JANE AUSTEN — and happily trading witticisms, insights, and invaluable strategies for getting mud out of one's hems. Cheryl is simultaneously smart, witty, and relentlessly practical. There is also a timelessness about her, which is awfully refreshing at the high (or low) point of Kardashian Kulture, and I truly believe she could keep up with Miss Austen.

Cheryl is executive editor at Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic. A Peculiar child (a reference to the Missouri town in which she grew up), Cheryl went to Carleton College in Minnesota, which I mention in part to note that the surrounding town smells like the nearby Malt-O-Meal headquarters.

She was the continuity editor of Harry Potter, and has edited many wonderful books, including A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth Bunce; Words in the Dust by Trent Reedy; Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork; and Eighth-Grade Superzero by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich (Cheryl is also the continuity editor of this amazing name). You can see the rest of her list here

Finally, Cheryl wrote Second Sight: An Editor's Talks on Writing, Revising & Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults. It's an extremely smart and useful book for anyone in our line of work, and if you'd like a taste of it, you can find some talks on her site. I particularly enjoyed "The Essentials of Plot" and "A Few Things Writers Can Learn from Harry Potter." 

Cheryl took the time to answer a few questions before the conference:  

How has the reception for Second Sight been? What hints and tips have people seemed to respond to most?

I've gotten a lot of really great feedback on Second Sight, and sales have been nice and steady — so much so that I'm about to do a second printing! Writers seem to respond most to the practical tips and techniques, like making a list of the first ten things a character says and does to see what sort of first impression s/he makes, and identifying your central plot structure and the points that need to be covered after that.

How do you know when a revision is working? Is it hard for you, as an editor, to retain enough distance?

A revision is working when I don't notice the issues anymore — or when I notice myself not noticing them, when I see a new clue laid in or plot development and think "Ah, nice work." Generally, though, after a good revision, the manuscript just feels better, and makes me feel more, and more deeply. 

Distance can definitely be a problem, especially if we're working in a short time frame or we're on the second or third go-around, and then I'll often loop in our assistant editor, Emily Clement, for a fresh read. I also try to restate at the top of every editorial letter what the Points as we understand and have agreed on them are -- "Points" being my catchall term for the character's emotional journey (the Emotional Point), the overarching theme or questions the book explores (Thematic Point), and what the story is (Experiential Point). If we have those defined in front of us, then it becomes easier to judge whether or not we're meeting that standard.

What are you hoping people get out of your talk — can you give us a brief overview?

I'd like for people to come away thinking of revision as an opportunity rather than a chore — a chance to see your book and characters more clearly, to know your book and what you want to do with it better, and then to accomplish those goals. And then I plan to offer some techniques for accomplishing those goals! Hopefully it will be fast, and fun, and dense with information, and useful.

* * * 

For more:

 

  • Follow Cheryl on Twitter and read her blog here.
  • Register for the New York conference here
  • Learn more about SCBWI.

 

Tuesday
Dec202011

Not Available in Stores Near You

It's a shredder's eternal nightmare: The soundtrack of heaven is of a choir of sweet-voiced nuns singing choral arrangements of classic rock anthems.

In my book, DEVINE INTERVENTION, just such a choir (called Nun of the Above, of course) makes this bad dream come true for all the troubled young souls in heaven's rehab program.  

If the lovely ladies of Nun of the Above ever do get around to releasing an album on the earthly plain, this is what the cover will look like. 

 


Wednesday
Dec072011

Why I write for kids: one reason of many

I just read the wonderful EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS, by one of my favorite authors, A.S. King. It's about a kid who's bullied for years at school and how he comes to terms with it. Lately I've also heard of a couple of really disturbing bullying incidents experienced by kids I know, some as young as seven. We've also experienced the effects personally at home with one of my daughters.

I write for kids like this, the ones who feel incurably awkward or somehow just not part of the things everyone else is part of. This is why my characters are never perfect beauties, never the envied pack of popular girls, never the sophomores with sixpacks (abs, that is. Beer, well...). Those "I'm alone in this" feelings are ones I understand on so many levels. Here's hoping that good stories make these kids feel less alone.

I try not to blog too much about the obvious. Bullying is bad! Mean people suck!

But unless you've gone through it yourself or with someone you love, you might not fully appreciate how swiftly some people excuse it, sweep it under the rug, or blame the victim. 

Obvious as it is, I wish more adults insisted that kids be kind. I wish more adults spend more energy being kind themselves. It's not difficult to do. It's a habit, like brushing your teeth. It costs nothing more than a bit of thought and time. But its absence lays waste the soul the same way bombs destroy a city. It costs so much to rebuild, so much is lost, and so much will never be the same again. 

Here's hoping we can all be a little kinder to each other, starting today.